THE UNDERACHIEVING FIRST-ROUNDER
To say Nelson Agholor has underperformed since the Eagles selected him with the 20th overall pick in the 2015 draft would be an understatement. He caught just 23 passes as a rookie and has been only marginally better this season.
Agholor went into Sunday's game with 27 catches and was averaging just 9.8 yards per catch. He hadn't had more than four catches or 60 receiving yards in a game this season. Just 12 of his 27 receptions had produced a first down.
He was targeted by quarterback Carson Wentz just three times Sunday and didn't have a catch for the first time this season.
He dropped a second-quarter pass in the middle of the field that probably would've gained at least 25 yards, maybe more, and given the Eagles the ball at midfield. Instead, the ball clanged off his hands and the Eagles went three-and-out. It was his fourth drop of the season.
On the possession before that, Agholor made an even more egregious momentum-swinging error. He lined up improperly on a third-and-6 play and drew a penalty for an illegal formation that negated a 57-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown by tight end Zach Ertz. The TD would've given the Eagles the lead at the time.
Instead, they ended up punting the ball back to the Seahawks, who drove down and kicked a field goal to take a 16-7 lead.
The Eagles have converted just 33.2 percent of their third-down opportunities this season, the lowest success rate in the league. That didn't change Sunday as they turned just 6 of 16 third-down chances into first downs.
What was different Sunday was that the defense, which has done an excellent job of getting off the field on third down this season - they're ranked fifth in third-down defense - uncharacteristically gave up some big third-down plays that also contributed to the loss.
In the first nine games, Eagles opponents had converted just four of 39 third downs of 10 yards or more (10.2%). That was the best third-and-long percentage in the league.
While the Seahawks converted just five of 15 third-down opportunities overall, three of those five were third-and-longs. Russell Wilson teamed with tight end Jimmy Graham on a 35-yard touchdown pass on a third-and-11 play in the second quarter that put the Seahawks in front.
The elusive Wilson managed to break containment and find Graham. He still shouldn't have scored, but safety Jaylen Watkins failed to bring the bigger, stronger Graham down.
On a third-and-11 play in the third quarter, Wilson hit wide receiver Doug Baldwin on a crossing route for a 34-yard gain. Three plays later, the Seahawks hit the Eagles with a little trickeration. Wilson tossed the ball to Baldwin on what looked like an end-around. But then Wilson bolted out of the backfield and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Baldwin that gave the Seahawks a 23-7 lead.
The Eagles' third-down problem on offense has been too many third-and-longs. In their first nine games, 52.5 percent of their third-down situations were eight yards or more. They hadn't converted a third-and-10 or more in four games.
On Sunday, they did do a better job of getting into more third-and-manageable situations. A season-high seven of their 16 third-down opportunities were four yards or fewer. Three of them came on an impressive 13-play, 68-yard touchdown drive late in the first quarter.
Wendell Smallwood converted a third-and-3 with a 4-yard run, Carson Wentz executed a rare quarterback sneak on a third-and-1, and Wentz hit Dorial Green-Beckham on a slant for an 11-yard gain on a third-and-4.
But the Eagles converted just three of their other 13 third-down tries, killing too many drives.
The Eagles were called for eight penalties, which was only their fifth most in a game this season. But a couple of them turned out to be very costly.
The biggest was the aforementioned illegal formation call on Agholor in the second quarter that wiped out Ertz's touchdown.
If Agholor doesn't get flagged there and Ertz's touchdown had stood, who knows how things would've turned out. It certainly would've given the Eagles offense a big confidence boost.
Before that penalty, there was another one that really hurt. An offside penalty on defensive end Brandon Graham on a third-and-16 play at the Philadelphia 40.
No big deal, you say? Wilson saw the flag and knew he had a free play and tried to hit Baldwin in the end zone, but the pass fell incomplete. If not for the penalty, the Seahawks likely would have punted.
But given a second chance by the over-anxious Graham, Wilson connected with tight end Jimmy Graham on a 35-yard touchdown pass that gave the Seahawks a 13-7 lead.
The Eagles handled the ear-piercing noise at CenturyLink Field fairly well. But left tackle Jason Peters was called twice for false starts - on the Eagles' first possession of the game and on their first possession of the second half. Peters also was flagged for a hold late in the game when the outcome long ago had been decided.
RUSSELL WILSON'S LEGS
Russell Wilson's rushing line was modest: just 19 yards on eight carries. Not a single rushing first down.
Even though they sacked him only once, the Eagles did a pretty good job of putting pressure on the Seahawks quarterback much of the day.
But even with the Eagles trying to keep Wilson pinned in the pocket, he still was occasionally able to move around and extend plays.
One of those was his 35-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham midway through the second quarter. He managed to break containment and deliver the ball to Graham, who shook off a tackle attempt by safety Jaylen Watkins like a dog shaking off bath water and ran into the end zone to put the Seahawks up, 13-7.
On a third-and-11 play in the third quarter, Wilson dodged an outside rush by moving up in the pocket and threw on the run to wide receiver Doug Baldwin. Baldwin picked up 34 yards on the play, giving the Seahawks a first down at the Philadelphia 26.
Wilson followed that up with a 9-yard toss to running back Thomas Rawls.
Then, two plays later, he pitched the ball to Baldwin on the fake end-around, took off out of the backfield and caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Baldwin to put the Seahawks up by 16, which might as well have been a hundred.
Plain and simple, the Seahawks are just better than the Eagles right now. At CenturyLink Field, at the Linc, anywhere. You know it. I know it. They know it.
That doesn't mean the Eagles had no chance Sunday. Of course they did. This is the NFL, after all. But when you're not as good as the other guys, you have to capitalize on every opportunity, minimize your mistakes.